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Understanding Various Techniques of Thermal Stress Relief in Plate Rolling

Thermal stress relief is a critical process in plate rolling, ensuring the reduction of internal stresses and enhancing the material’s stability and durability. Several techniques are employed in this domain, each with its unique benefits and applications. This article delves into the different types of thermal stress relief methods commonly utilized in plate rolling.

What is plate rolling?

Plate rolling, also known as sheet rolling or plate bending, is a metalworking process used to bend and shape flat metal plates or sheets into curved or cylindrical forms. It involves applying force to the metal workpiece using specialized machinery to achieve the desired curvature without compromising the material’s structural integrity.

4-Roll Plate Rolling Machine: Stainless Steel Hot Tub Liner Automatic Production Line

During plate rolling, a metal plate or sheet is positioned between rollers in a plate rolling machine. These rollers typically include two side rollers and one top roller. The top roller, also known as the bending or forming roller, applies pressure to the metal workpiece, while the side rollers maintain the plate’s position and prevent it from skewing or twisting during the bending process.

As the top roller exerts force, the metal plate gradually bends or curves, conforming to the shape of the rollers. The operator adjusts the positioning and pressure exerted by the rollers to achieve the desired curvature, radius, or shape specified for the final product.

Plate rolling is utilized in various industries, including metal fabrication, shipbuilding, aerospace, construction, and manufacturing of tanks, cylinders, pipes, and structural components. Its versatility allows for the production of curved or cylindrical metal components used in a wide array of applications, offering flexibility in creating diverse shapes and configurations from flat metal sheets.

What is a plate rolling machine?

A plate rolling machine, also known as a plate roll or a rolling machine, is an industrial device specifically designed for the shaping and bending of metal plates or sheets. It operates through a series of rollers that exert force on the metal workpiece to bend it into various shapes, including cylinders, cones, or curved plates.

The machine consists of three main rollers—two side rollers and one top roller—that can be adjusted to accommodate different thicknesses and widths of metal plates. The side rollers are fixed in position, while the top roller, also called the bending or forming roller, can be adjusted vertically to achieve different bending diameters.

To operate the plate rolling machine, a metal plate is placed between the rollers, and hydraulic or mechanical force is applied to the top roller. As the top roller exerts pressure, the metal plate is gradually curved or bent according to the desired shape. The operator adjusts the position of the rollers and controls the bending process to achieve precise curvature and dimensions required for the final product.

Plate rolling machines are used extensively in various industries, including metal fabrication, manufacturing of pressure vessels, tanks, pipes, and architectural components. Their versatility in shaping metal plates of varying thicknesses and lengths makes them essential equipment for producing curved or cylindrical components used in a wide range of applications.

Thermal Stress Relief Techniques

Post-Weld Heat Treatment (PWHT):

Post-weld heat treatment involves heating the material to a specific temperature and holding it for a certain duration before slowly cooling it down. In plate rolling, PWHT is crucial after welding processes to alleviate residual stresses:

  • Benefits: PWHT helps minimize distortion, improve ductility, and reduce the risk of cracking, ensuring the structural integrity of rolled plates.
  • Process: The material is heated in a furnace or through induction, followed by controlled cooling. The temperature and duration depend on the material type and thickness.


Annealing involves heating the material to a specific temperature and then slowly cooling it to relieve internal stresses. In plate rolling, annealing can enhance machinability and ductility:

  • Benefits: This process refines the microstructure of the material, making it more homogeneous and improving its mechanical properties.
  • Process: The material is heated to the desired temperature and held for a specified duration before being cooled slowly, typically in a controlled environment like a furnace.


Debugging Rolling Process of Ø9000mm【3 Roll Plate Rolling Machine】Wind Tower Bending Machine

Normalizing is a heat treatment process that involves heating the material above its critical temperature, followed by air cooling. In plate rolling, normalizing improves the material’s strength and toughness:

  • Benefits: It refines the grain structure, enhancing mechanical properties while reducing residual stresses and improving uniformity.
  • Process: The material is heated above its critical temperature and held for a certain period, followed by air cooling in ambient conditions.

Comparison of Thermal Stress Relief Techniques

Post-Weld Heat TreatmentMinimizes distortion, improves ductility, reduces crackingHeating in a furnace or induction, controlled cooling
AnnealingRefines microstructure, enhances machinability and ductilityHeating to specific temperature, controlled cooling
NormalizingImproves strength and toughness, refines grain structureHeating above critical temperature, air cooling

Stress Relieving Heat Treatment:

Stress relieving heat treatment involves heating the material to a specific temperature below its transformation range and then cooling it in still air. In plate rolling, this method is used to minimize residual stresses:

  • Benefits: Stress relieving reduces internal stresses, thereby improving dimensional stability and minimizing distortion.
  • Process: The material is heated to a predetermined temperature and held for a specified time before being air-cooled.


In the realm of plate rolling, employing appropriate thermal stress relief techniques is paramount to ensuring high-quality rolled plates with optimal mechanical properties. Each method, be it post-weld heat treatment, annealing, normalizing, or stress relieving heat treatment, serves a distinct purpose in alleviating internal stresses, enhancing material properties, and maintaining dimensional stability. Understanding these techniques and their applications enables manufacturers to choose the most suitable method for their specific plate rolling requirements, ensuring superior product quality and performance.